Famikoto celebrates Nintendo with medley of game music played on traditional instruments【J-Tunes】

It should be no secret that we at RocketNews24 love traditional Japanese music. Whether its Ki&Ki with their tsugaru-jamisen songs or the Wagakki Band with their fusion of vocaloid-inspired rock and traditional instruments, we simply adore the sound. Of course, we’re also fans of Nintendo’s old video games–which is what makes Famikoto one of our favorite discoveries this season!

Check out this group’s music and get ready to take a walk down memory lane with some of Nintendo’s best theme songs!

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Japan’s hydrogen fuel cell stations begin to open, but are they worth the switch?

With Toyota’s first hydrogen fuel cell vehicle (FCV), Mirai, now available, many wait to see if this revolutionary car with take off or fall flat in Japan. On 25 December, JX Nippon Oil & Energy began selling hydrogen for these new vehicles at a cost of 1,000 yen per kilogram (US$8/kg – $3.60/lb).

So is that worth giving up the pumps for…whatever hydrogen comes out of?

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Confused Japanese consumers want an answer: Where is “P.R.C.”?

In today’s globalized economy, it’s perfectly normal to be wearing shoes made in Malaysia, listening to an American pop star on a Korean smartphone while driving a German car fitted with Japanese tires. But how many times have you taken a good look to find out where those new jeans or those headphones you got for Christmas were really made?

Recently Japanese consumers have been discovering that some of their products are from “P.R.C.,” a country they had never heard of, and would like some answers on what appears to be a legal gray zone in product labeling regulations.

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Steve Jobs? More like Stove Jobs – Mac Pro computer makes a comeback as a stylish cooking device

Getting a fancy new computer is always fun, but then you’re left to get rid of your outdated clunker. Sure you can send it off to be recycled, but think of all the good times you’ve shared with your old computing buddy.

One Japanese Mac Pro user couldn’t part with his desktop, so he decided to give it a second life − as a stove. A rocket stove, to be precise.  By adding a burner to the top and an exhaust pipe at the bottom, behold the “yakiringo” (grilled apple).

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Photos of people lining up outside of the Sapporo Apple Store make us feel positively frozen

We thought people were dedicated when they lined up in droves to wait for the release of the iPhone 6 earlier this year, but that’s nothing compared to what these people had to endure while waiting for New Year’s lucky bags outside of the Apple Store in Sapporo, Japan!

Would you wait outside in the freezing cold for over a day and risk catching pneumonia in order to score some spiffy Apple products?

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Ugly-cute makeup genius feeds off negative troll comments on Twitter

We’re all used to seeing those before-and-after photos of plain jane (or even, let’s be honest, um, “conventionally unattractive”) Asian girls transforming themselves into gorgeous swans through the use of cosmetics. But did you ever stop to think about those girls’ lives? What kind of bullying and social pressure drove them to devote themselves so entirely to relying on the contents of their makeup bags?

Today we’d like to introduce you to a young lady whose “before” face has made her the victim of a barrage of cruel tweets. But is she bothered? Not one bit!

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Schoolboy offers elderly man seat on train, gets publicly berated for doing just that

Japanese people have a reputation for being polite and well-mannered, so the frequent sight of so many people, rather than giving up their seat as they should, suddenly becoming engrossed in their smartphones or pretending to sleep when a pregnant woman or elderly person boards always comes as a bit of a surprise to me.

Of course, there are still plenty of kind and courteous people who offer up their seat without fail. On such occasions, the elderly passenger will often decline the offer, either because they will be getting off in a couple stops, or because despite appearances they still feel young and genki enough to stand for the journey. One elderly man in particular, though, took offense at a young boy who kindly offered up his seat recently.

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Tiny 5-year-old model makes traditional Han Chinese garb extra cute

Many countries have a distinctive national costume, from Japanese kimono to Scottish kilts. But ask people to name the traditional Chinese dress, and you’re unlikely to get a simple answer.

There’s the Qipao (also called Cheongsam), a tight-fitting one-piece dress, which (in its modern incarnation anyway) was popularised in the 1920s. And then there’s the Hanfu, a looser garment, which despite its 3,000 year history as the traditional dress of the Han Chinese, has somehow failed to capture the world’s imagination as the modern Chinese national costume.

But if the popularity of the following photos of 5-year-old Liu Chu Tian are any indication, Hanfu could be making a triumphant comeback. Check out the beautiful portraits of this pint-sized actress after the jump!

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The science behind why English speakers can’t pronounce the Japanese “fu”

Learning a foreign language is hard. Even if you master all the vocabulary and grammar, there’s still no guarantee that you’ll ever achieve a native-like accent. For Japanese learners of English, differentiating between the “l” and “r” sounds and pronouncing the “th” sound correctly can be tricky them no matter how many years they’ve been practicing.

But have you ever wondered what it’s like the other way around? What sounds do we English speakers make that sound strange when we speak Japanese? Well it turns out the sound that we mess up the most is one you might not have expected: “fu”.

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This Russian carbonated beverage commercial is definitely doing its job of making people want to buy their product, but it is also indirectly introducing an under-acknowledged Russian drink to other countries. It all works, however, due to its overly explicit publicity tactic.

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Beautiful guitarist in new female J-rock band LoVendoЯ captures netizens’ hearts

With the Japanese pop idol market in over-saturation thanks to a certain 48-member strong girl group and its related splinter and regional variants, the pop-music loving public are starting to get restless. Pretty girls singing sugary-sweet J-pop in unison is all well and good, but how about a little more musical talent to go with the eye candy? Enter LoVendoЯ (pronounced “Lavender” or, in Japanese, “rabendaa”), a girl group with actual musical instrument playing skills! Okay, so only two of them play instruments (the guitar). And one of these guitarists, Marin Miyazawa, (far right) has managed to snag a huge percentage of the fan adoration away from frontwoman and ex-Morning Musume member, Reina Tanaka (no mean feat!). So, why does everyone love her so much? Well, she’s not only super-pretty, she also plays the guitar quite well. Beautiful women doing things hype!

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A different kind of golden shower: Septic tank truck explodes in China

Bad luck strikes whenever it pleases, and I’m sure that at some point or another, we’ve all had to deal with a bad day. Any number of things can happen, from spilling coffee on your clean white shirt, to dropping and breaking your phone as you rush for work or your card being inexplicably declined as you attempt to pay for dinner on your first date…

All are pretty unfortunate things to happen that can really put a damper on your day. But I can pretty much guarantee that none of those things compare to the awfulness of being an innocent bystander when a nearby septic truck decides to explode, showering all in the vicinity with a literal load of crap. Just ask those that were there in Hechi City, China, on December 26, when that very thing happened.

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Human, doll or Photoshop disaster? Korean cosplayer’s doll-like appearance raises questions

Photo editing can be something of a double-edged sword; it can enhance your images and make everything look better, but left in the hands of the notorious Photoshop trolls, a simple portrait can easily become the biggest joke of the year.

It is common for cosplayers and photographers to tweak cosplay photographs to achieve a more convincing finish, but as with most things in life, moderation is key. A series of photos of a particular Korean cosplayer has been attracting attention online as of late, with many netizens calling it a case of Photoshop overdose. See the pictures and decide for yourselves after the jump!

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Crazy cute cosplayer Nekomu captivates at Comiket, considering a career in comics

One of the best things about Comiket, or any kind of convention really, is just wandering around checking out what everyone else is wearing. In Japan especially, you can expect to see a high level of polish and detail when it comes to the outfits dedicated cosplayers wear for the benefit of everyone else’s aesthetic appreciation. But, as in life, it seems like those cosplayers who are naturally blessed with beauty tend to be the ones drawing everyone’s eye. Just ask this incredibly cute young lady, who was one of the unofficial stars of Comiket 87.

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Tokyo’s cheapest shoe chain and 10 pairs of kicks that cost less than 10 bucks each

Whether you’re coming to Japan as a tourist or a new resident, getting into the island nation usually means taking a plane. With luggage space at a premium, odds are you haven’t packed more than two or three pairs of shoes, which is fine for a running start in the country. With all the walking involved in public-transportation-embracing Japan, though, wear and tear are going to set in before long, and you’ll find yourself in need of a new pair of kicks.

Odds are, though, that you didn’t come all the way to Japan to blow your travel budget on new shoes. If you’re just getting started as a working professional here, you’re probably also a little light on cash. So to keep your feet comfortable, outfit stylish, and wallet happy, today we’re taking a trip to one of Tokyo’s best-kept secret bargains, the Tokyo Shoe Distribution Center, to pick up a selection of footwear at less than 990 yen (US$8.40) per pair.

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Mochi, the silent New Year killer, leaves nine dead and 128 hospitalized

Ah mochi, the delicious Japanese sweet. It can come in all different shapes and flavors, from the loveable daifuku with sweet bean paste filling, to hot zenzai soup with azuki beans and white mochi, to such delights as mochi ice cream and even chocolate cow poop mochi.

Since mochi is a traditional New Year’s treat in Japan – you can even reserve your New Year’s kagami mochi at Baskin Robins – more of it is consumed around this time of year than any other.

But all that mochi-eating has a dark side to it. With its incredibly sticky texture, mochi causes the most choking-related deaths of any food item in Japan. Last year it killed two people during the New Year season, and after just two days into 2015 it has already claimed nine lives and hospitalized 128 others.

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Cosplay as wacky Japanese comedy duo, get free sushi and yakiniku for all your friends!

Do you like a good laugh, free stuff, and also stuffing your face with sushi and yakiniku? Then you might be interested in this new promotional campaign that’s going on in Japan right now!

Stamina Taro, an all-you-can-eat sushi and yakiniku chain in Japan, has enlisted the help of female comedy duo Nippon Elekitel Rengo to help drum up extra business over the New Year period. All you have to do to score majorly discounted or even FREE sushi and grilled meat is dress up like one, or both, of these super-funny ladies.

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Happy Kentucky Fried New Year! And this year’s KFC New Year Lucky Bag contains…?

Every New Year’s, people across Japan flock to stores for special bargains, and in particular, the “Lucky Bags” known as fukubukuro. From electronics and chocolate shops to up-scale department stores, Japanese shops and businesses of all kinds come up with original Lucky Bags at the beginning of each year to tempt those of us out for some new year’s shopping. Now, these bags are supposed to offer good value, containing products worth more than the price you pay for the bag. Well, the bags may be a good value, but the catch is that you can’t choose what you get in your bag, and each year there ends up being much online discussion on whether the Lucky Bags from different shops are a particularly good or bad deal.

Not to miss out on the action, the team at the Japanese RocketNews24 site has also joined the Lucky Bag rush, and as we’ve already started reporting, we’ve taken a look at the contents of quite a few of the bags being sold this year. And one of them happens to be a bag from none other than … Kentucky Fried Chicken Japan. Let’s see what “finger-lickin’ good” items were included in their Lucky Bag for 2015!

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Check your Psycho-Pass levels at Shinjuku Station, but be careful, you might get eliminated!

How is your mental state? How likely do you think you are to commit a crime? If it were the year 2112 in the dystopian Japan of the popular anime Psycho-Pass, it would be no secret; your mental state and “Crime Coefficient” would be read, monitored and recorded by the Sibyl System. What’s more, if you were to go a little crazy, then you would be “taken care of” by the Public Safety Bureau.

With the new Psycho-Pass movie coming out on January 9, Fuji TV and their anime program Noitamina have come out with an ingenious advertising event. Why wait until 2112 to get your Psycho-Pass index when you can just go to Shinjuku Station next week! But watch out, if your mental state reading is muddy or your crime-coefficient is too high, you might get eliminated.

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See what it’s like to use a computer in North Korea

When former Google employee Will Scott had the chance to visit the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, he also purchased a copy of North Korea’s “Red Star 3″ operating system before returning to America.

Little was publically known about Red Star 3.

North Korea used to use Windows, but it has since created Red Star 3, which is designed to look a lot like Apple’s Mac OS X operating system.

From stunning and picturesque wallpapers to removing South Korea from the available time zones, here’s what it’s like to use a computer in North Korea.

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